Posts Tagged ‘International Holocaust Remembrance Day’

Soon after liberation, surviving children of the Auschwitz camp walk out of the children’s barracks. Poland, after January 27, 1945. — United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Soon after liberation, surviving children of the Auschwitz camp walk out of the children’s barracks. Poland, after January 27, 1945. — United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day Soviet troops over ran Auschwitz in 1945. This week I received a note from an Israeli survivor friend, shortly after the passing of one of her liberators, Carrol Walsh. Sara lost over 60 of her family there- and her immediate family was saved only because the day they arrived at Auschwitz, the death machinations were working at full capacity and her transport was rerouted to Belsen. She was liberated on 13 April on the evacuation transport near Farsleben, known here as the Train Near Magdeburg…

In her letter she asks important questions of me. I have responded the best that I could, below.

Dear Matthew,

 We were very sad to hear that Carrol Walsh passed away. Only lately did I get to know him, and he risked his life in order to save ours. It is a pity we did not get to meet more.

I can’t express in words the loving feelings for the young tank commander that for sure always had a smile on his face, and never stopped smiling after we met- 65 years after the victory. I am sure Carrol Walsh made the best out of his life; I was fulfilled to know him and his beautiful family.

I read about his profession in the years of his life. It was interesting to see how much meeting with us affected him.

I thank you for your unusual courage to initiate the exciting meeting [reunion].

I suppose you were very excited for the event you had initiated. Did the idea come in different parts? I am trying to understand the development of your thinking.
When you first wrote to me about the meeting [invitation to the proposed reunion], it was on the day we were released- the 13th of April. I got home after meeting my brothers and celebrating the release [liberation]day. I couldn’t relax, I immediately told all my brothers. I was so happy, as if it was happening again.

The meeting completed a missing part in the picture for me, after all the horrifying things we went through we couldn’t even dream of a miracle like that coming out of the blue.

I cannot go back more to the extermination camps and escort groups because I don’t have the physical nor mental power to do that anymore.

There are questions that bother me.

Are you able to answer them?

Why shouldn’t the world forget and let this be over?  

A. So, some people do want to forget. Others will say that it did not happen. For those reasons, it must never be forgotten. This is the biggest crime in the history of the world.

As Walsh states, how could humanity have stood by and let that happen?

Does my work, the hard work I do, do anything against the forgetting?

A.The most impressionable minds in the world are those of the youth. It is they who the Nazis “educated”; it made it easier for the crimes to be committed. This is why they must hear now.

The work that you, and I do, has an impression. I hope to continue this work after you must slow down. Please remember that.


You are a historian, should the memory be kept?

A.The memory must be kept. As educators it is our duty to keep it alive. We must fight those who trivialize or denigrate its importance.

Is there a proper way to keep the memory?

A.There is no one way except to be open to the discussion of humanity and how humans could do this to one another. We must also bear in mind however, that the soldiers who helped the suffering to new life bore their own pains in doing so, yet also made a choice to redeem humanity. Some did not sleep soundly for years.

I think this is so, and also must not be forgotten. The war brought out the most evil in the world. But I think it also revealed some goodness in the form of the soldiers who liberated or otherwise cared for the victims.

Who should be documenting everything, the “victim” or the “aggressor”?

A.The aggressor fades from memory. New generations asks questions. It is true that some are bothered by the questions. But the young will always be curious and want to know- is this a stain on the German people? I know some Germans today who work very hard to keep the memory alive, as you also do.

The victims give the testimony. This is all they can do. But it is the evidence of the crime, and one that new generations must work with. That is why your work is so important.

Who is in charge of making the conclusions?

A.I would say that institutions such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem are the world leaders in this area. I have been trained, well, I should hope, by the USHMM. I do not know enough about the German institutions but I hope to raise enough funds to travel to the camps and study there this summer.

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West Ham send message to racist fans with Holocaust ceremony

Auschwitz survivor will lead pre-match ritual following anti-Semitic chants at Tottenham

Darren Richman /The Independent

Friday, 18 January 2013

West Ham will commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day today at Upton Park with a reminder to sections of their support that anti-Semitic chanting is unacceptable. The club have invited the Football Association chairman, David Bernstein, the Mayor of Newham and Holocaust survivor Zigi Shipper to attend the match against Queen’s Park Rangers and mark the occasion by lighting candles before kick-off. Lord Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, has written a piece in the programme emphasising the fact that sport can be a force for good in helping erase all forms of prejudice.

West Ham’s decision to honour the victims of the Holocaust in this manner is particularly admirable given the events that marred their trip to Tottenham in November. A vocal minority of fans engaged in abusive chanting and made hissing sounds to emulate the gas chambers. Shipper feels that education is the key.

“A lot of these people don’t know any Jewish people,” he said. “They don’t really know what a Jew is. They don’t realise the full scale of what happened. Six million Jews were murdered along with Gypsies, homosexuals and the physically and mentally handicapped. All just because of who they were.

“I have gone to many matches but never heard anything like that which was heard at White Hart Lane. I know for certain that I would have left the ground immediately if I’d been there. When I got off the boat and arrived in this country as a boy, I never imagined anything like that would happen.”

Shipper, 83, was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in his teens and witnessed countless horrors. “I saw women and babies shot dead,” he said. “Every day I ask myself how human beings could possibly behave that way and then sit down with their wife and children. How could they eat dinner? How could they listen to music?”

Shipper settled in London shortly after the war and started his own stationery company, which is still active today. Most of his time now, however, is spent educating young people.

He said: “I travel round the country visiting schools and universities and share my story. It is important that people understand what millions of us went through. I don’t want the Holocaust to be forgotten because there is always the danger of history repeating itself.”

Of recent racist incidents in football, including Milan’s decision to walk off during a game, he said: “Is walking off letting the racists win? It’s hard to say but I would probably have done the same.”

Shipper has already been involved in spreading his word to football: he addressed the England squad before they departed for Euro 2012.

“I have met Prime Ministers and the Queen but being asked to speak to the players was the greatest honour of my life,” Shipper said. “All I kept thinking was that it’s not bad for a little Polish immigrant who came to this country with nothing more than the clothes he was wearing.”


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Holocaust survivor recalls kindness of US troops

Another survivor of the train near Magdeburg appears. International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2012. I hope she finds her way to this site so she can meet her actual liberators! Thanks for Leslie Meisels for tipping us off to the article. Aliza’s memoir of life in the Warsaw Ghetto and beyond is very moving and can be found here.

By GIL SHEFLER 01/27/2012 00:34

“The American soldiers didn’t know what to do and they showered us with chocolates and cigarettes.”

Aliza Vitis-Shomron on Thursday vividly recalled her brush with death on the eve of her liberation from the Nazis in 1945.

The survivor, who spoke on a panel at the Kibbutz Yad Mordechai Holocaust Museum the day before the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, said a rumor had spread among the group of Jewish prisoners she was part of in Poland that they were about to be murdered.

Rather than surrendering them to the Allies closing in from the east and west, the prisoners feared their captors were planning to plunge their train into the Elbe River and drown everyone.

“Panic and fear spread quickly,” recalled the Polish-born Israeli who survived the Warsaw Ghetto and the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. “Just as we were at the point of despair, two American tanks came rolling down a hill and saved us.”

The feeble Jewish prisoners emerged from the train and embraced the stunned soldiers of the US 30th Armored Division.

the tank commanders who freed her.

“We were crying with joy,” she said. “The American soldiers didn’t know what to do and they showered us with chocolates and cigarettes.”

Vitis-Shomron said she did not feel that she had defeated the Nazis.

“I did not triumph,” said Vitis-Shomron, an educator who has four great-grandchildren.

“What happened accompanies me, but I try to live and live well. I try to teach humanitarian values to our youths. We must never do upon others what was done to us.”

The panel Vitis-Shomron was part of at Yad Mordechai, the kibbutz named after the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Mordechai Anielewicz), included Simcha “Kojak” Rotem, who fought in the uprising, and former defense minister Moshe Arens.

It was one of many events held in Israel and around the world commemorating the remembrance day.

On Wednesday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor, American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris and members of the newly formed World Forum of Russian Jewry met at United Nations headquarters to honor the memory of those killed by the Nazis.

The AJC head said the lesson learned from the murder of six million Jews required the world to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities.

“This past September, indeed on these grounds, the notorious Holocaust denier, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, spoke,” Harris said. “To their credit, several UN member ambassadors walked out, but, shamefully, the majority stayed in the General Assembly hall and applauded his remarks.”

The president of the World Forum of Russian Jewry, Ukrainian businessman Alexander Levin, joined the call urging the UN to take action against the Islamic Republic.

More Holocaust memorial events are planned for Israel and around the world on Friday.

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and ambassadors from more than a dozen countries including Germany, the US, Egypt and the Philippines are set to gather at the Massuah Institute for Holocaust Studies at Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak near Netanya to take part in a memorial ceremony.

The UN designated January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005. It is marked by governments and organizations around the world.

Israel, however, observes its official Holocaust Remembrance Day on the 26th of Nissan, the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, according to the Jewish calendar. Its selection reflects the Jewish state’s preference to emphasize Jewish resistance to the Nazis.


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Quotes from American Soldiers/Holocaust Survivors Reunion   9/22-26/09

Compiled by Mrs. Hales, English teacher, Hudson Falls High School.

You are free to share or use this page, provided the following conditions are met:

  • Attribution — You must attribute the work. That means you need to credit me, even if you are a student working on a last minute paper for your history teacher at 2am, searching for that killer quote. Your teacher will be impressed; otherwise, he or she will go online and find the quote the same way you did, and let you have it for stealing. So I’ll make it easy: Rozell, Matthew. Quotes from the American Soldiers/Holocaust Survivors Reunion, Hudson Falls High School, New York, USA;   9/22-9/26/2009. World War II Living History Project/Teaching History Matters https://teachinghistorymatters.wordpress.com. Accessed (you fill in the blank with a date here).
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  • No Derivative Works — You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work. If you want to copy it for use on your website, fine, but it must be copied in its entirety and duly credited with the reciprocal link.

Credit Matthew Rozell and World War II Living History Project/Teaching History Matters. .. If re-posting  include the link, https://teachinghistorymatters.wordpress.com.

  • “How could we [the world] have stood by and let that happen to them?  We owe them.”   Carrol Walsh, 743rd Tank Battalion, Liberator
  • “I often wonder what this world would be like if those 6 million had never perished.”  Frank Towers, 30th Infantry Division, Liberator
  • “Against all odds I am standing here before you.”  Steven Barry, Holocaust Survivor, (Hungary, Florida)
  • “I tell my story so that they might tell the next generation.”  Sara Atzmon, Holocaust Survivor, artist, (Hungary, Israel)
  • “Love gives us wings to soar above it all.”  Sara Atzmon, Holocaust Survivor, artist, (Hungary, Israel)
  • “Hatred is something we must fight against.”  Leslie Meisels, Holocaust Survivor, (Hungary, Toronto)
  • “Silence helps the oppressors.” Leslie Meisels, Holocaust Survivor, (Hungary, Toronto)
  • “I tell my story so that it won’t become your future.”  Leslie Meisels, Holocaust Survivor, (Hungary, Toronto)
  • “We cannot be lax at all.  We must keep the faith.  We must tell others.”  Buster Simmons, Chaplain, 30th Infantry Division Veterans of WWII.
  • “I’m listed as a liberator, but I’m a survivor of WWII.”  William Gast, 743rd Tank Battalion
  • “We keep the faith.”  Motto of the 743rd Tank Battalion
  • “Freedom is not free; there is a high price tag attached.”  William Gast, 743rd Tank Battalion
  • “We must ever be thankful [for our freedom].  We must NEVER take freedom for granted.”  William Gast, 743rd Tank Battalion
  • “After they gave us back our lives, we needed to live each day.”  Paul Arato, Holocaust Survivor, (Hungary;  Toronto, Canada)
  • “I live some of the horrors of 65 years ago everyday.”  Paul Arato, Holocaust Survivor, (Hungary;  Toronto, Canada)
  • “You have the power to heal the world.”  Lev Raphael, son of Holocaust survivors
  • “Don’t be a bystander.”  Mr. Rozell, see below.

Credit Matthew Rozell and World War II Living History Project/Teaching History Matters. .. If re-posting  include the link, https://teachinghistorymatters.wordpress.com.

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I’m a teacher.

This blog is about the Power of Teaching.

If you decide to spend a few moments here, you will see what I mean…

Start by studying the photograph below.

I mean, click on it to enlarge, really look at it.

Study the faces.

Imagine being the man behind the lens…

Matthew Rozell

Enter a caption

You may be here to find out more about the photograph that shows the moment of liberation. Watch the ABC News clip below about how I was first shown it by US Army veterans of World War II, the story they told me, and what I did afterwards, and the consequences of those actions.

[My new book on this will be out this July. You can put in a pre-order notice, above- GET THE BOOK HERE]

It is nothing short of a miracle.

Then again, in the words of one survivor, there are no coincidences.

Feel free to contact me or re-post this website.

Sign up for amazing updates on the upper right.

Do you know that nearly 250 survivors of this train transport have now had contact with their actual American liberators? It’s true. There are 10 other photos of the liberation that day on this site, and many folks have been identified.

Feel free to explore. Thanks for stopping by.


During our second Holocaust survivor/American soldier reunion, we reached out to a student audience of 1500 kids over three days. Just before the final farewell  banquet  the ABC piece below aired, and the soldiers, survivors, teachers and students watched it together in a restaurant lounge.

Not a dry eye!

Matthew Rozell

Official ABC site and video


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